|Publication number||US7794302 B2|
|Application number||US 12/348,460|
|Publication date||Sep 14, 2010|
|Filing date||Jan 5, 2009|
|Priority date||Mar 28, 2001|
|Also published as||US7497759, US20090197499|
|Publication number||12348460, 348460, US 7794302 B2, US 7794302B2, US-B2-7794302, US7794302 B2, US7794302B2|
|Original Assignee||Steven Davis|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (4), Referenced by (8), Classifications (7), Legal Events (2)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a Continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/424,433, which is a continuation in part of Ser. No. 11/106,146 filed Apr. 14, 2005, which is a continuation of U.S. Pat. No. 6,899,586, which is a continuation of U.S. Pat. No. 6,843,699. U.S. Pat. No. 6,843,699 claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application 60/453,283 filed on Mar. 11, 2003 and is a Continuation In Part Application of U.S. Pat. No. 6,688,936. All of which are incorporated by reference.
This invention relates to flying vehicles that are directionally controllable self-stabilizing rotating vehicles.
Most vertical takeoff and landing vehicles rely on gyro stabilization systems to remain stable in hovering flight. For instance, the inventor's previous U.S. Pat. No. 5,971,320 and corresponding International PCT Application WO 99/10235 disclose a helicopter with a gyroscopic rotor assembly to control the orientation or yaw of the helicopter. However, different characteristics are present when the entire body of the vehicle, such as a flying saucer, rotates. Gyro stabilization systems are typically no longer useful when the entire body rotates, for example, see U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,297,759; 5,634,839; 5,672,086; and U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,843,699 and 6,899,586.
However, a great deal of effort is still made in the prior art to eliminate or counteract the torque created by horizontal rotating propellers in flying aircraft in an effort to increase stability. For example, Japanese Patent Application Number 63-026355 to Keyence Corp. provides a first pair of horizontal propellers reversely rotating from a second pair of horizontal propellers in order to eliminate torque. See also U.S. Pat. No. 5,071,383 which incorporates two horizontal propellers rotating in opposite directions to eliminate rotation of the aircraft. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 3,568,358 discloses means for providing a counter-torque to the torque produced by a propeller because, as stated in the '358 patent, torque creates instability as well as reducing the propeller speed and effective efficiency of the propeller.
The prior art also includes flying or rotary aircraft which have disclosed the ability to stabilize the aircraft without the need for counter-rotating propellers. U.S. Pat. No. 5,297,759 incorporates a plurality of blades positioned around a hub and its central axis and fixed in pitch. A pair of rotors pitched transversely to a central axis to provide lift and rotation are mounted on diametrically opposing blades. Each blade includes turned outer tips, which create a passive stability by generating transverse lift forces to counteract imbalance of vertical lift forces generated by the blades. This helps to maintain the center of lift on the central axis of the rotors. In addition, because the rotors are pitched transversely to the central axis to provide lift and rotation, the lift generated by the blades is always greater than the lift generated by the rotors.
Nevertheless, there is always a continual need to provide new and novel self-stabilizing rotating vehicles that do not rely on additional rotors to counter the torque of a main rotor. Such self-stabilizing rotating vehicles should be inexpensive and relatively noncomplex.
In addition to providing a self-stabilizing rotating vehicle, the ability to provide a simple hovering vehicle that is also controllable greatly enhances the vehicle. When the entire vehicle rotates the vehicle loses an orientation reference, which helps the remote user determine the direction in which the vehicle should move. In helicopters, airplanes, or other typical flying aircraft that have defined front ends or noses, the aircraft has a specific orientation that is predetermined by the nose of the vehicle. In such circumstances a user controlling the aircraft could push a joystick controller forwards (or push a forwards button) to direct the aircraft to travel forwards from its point of reference, similar directional controls are found in conventional remote controlled vehicles. However, when a vehicle completely rotates, such as a flying saucer or any other rotating vehicle, the rotating vehicle loses its orientation as soon as it begins to spin, making directional control difficult to implement. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,429,542 to Britt, Jr. as well as U.S. Pat. No. 5,297,759 to Tilbor et al. disclose rotating vehicles but only address movement in an upwards, downwards, and spinning direction; and U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,634,839 and 5,672,086 to Dixon discuss the use of a control signal to direct the rotating vehicle towards or away from the user, thus requiring the user to move about the rotating vehicle to the left or right if the user wants the rotating vehicle to move towards that particular direction.
In accordance with an embodiment a self-stabilizing controllable rotating flying vehicle is provided. The rotating vehicle includes a hub with a plurality of blades fixed thereto. The blades further extend outwardly and downwardly to connect to an outer ring. At least two rotor assemblies are provided and each includes a propeller positioned beneath the blades. As the propellers (defined by the rotor assemblies) spin, the hub, blades, and outer ring rotate in an opposite direction caused by the torque of the spinning propellers. The propellers are further controllable by a remote control in a manner that moves the rotating vehicle in various directions, such as up and down, left and right, and forward and backwards.
In a first control system used to move the flying rotating vehicle in various directions, the rotating vehicle includes a non directional receiver and a reference detector receiver for receiving a point of reference signal, both receivers are in communication with a microprocessor. A hand held controller includes a transmitter that emits encoded commands to move the flying rotating vehicle in a specified direction relative to the user. The encoded commands are received by the non directional receiver. In addition, the microprocessor has programming to control the rotor assemblies in response to the received encoded commands and in relation to the directional point of reference such that the flying rotating vehicle moves in the specified direction relative to the remote user. The first control system includes programming to generate a drive signal for each rotor assembly, wherein the drive signals control the rotating vehicle to fly in the specified direction.
The hand held controller may include a throttle controller that is manually operable by the user. The throttle controller when manipulated by the user causes the transmitter to send encoded commands to indicate to the microprocessor to increase and decrease the level of the drive signals to each rotor assembly. This would cause the rotating vehicle to move up or down. The hand held controller may also include a directional controller that is manually operable by the user. The directional controller when manipulated by the user causes the transmitter to send encoded commands to indicate to the microprocessor to generate the drive signals for each rotor assembly. The drive signals would include a sinusoidal wave that is out of phase with one another by a predetermined offset angle defined by the placement of the rotor assemblies in reference to each other and includes amplitude defined to control the speed in which directional controls are made.
In a second control system, the rotating vehicle includes a radio receiver and means to control the rotor assemblies in response to drive signals received by the radio receiver. A hand held controller has a radio transmitter in communication with a microprocessor. The microprocessor has programming to generate the drive signals in response to inputs from the hand held controller and the directional reference received from the rotating vehicle, such that inputs relate to moving the flying rotating vehicle in a specified direction relative to the hand held controller and the drive signals control the rotating vehicle to move in the specified direction. The drive signals are transmitted from the radio transmitter. Thus the rotor assemblies are controlled to move the flying rotating vehicle in the specified direction relative to the hand held controller when the radio receiver receives the drive signals.
The hand held controller may further include a throttle controller manually operable by the user. The throttle controller when manipulated by the user causes the microprocessor to increase and decrease levels of the drive signals. In addition, the hand held controller may include a directional controller manually operable by the user. The directional controller when manipulated by the user causes the microprocessor to generate drive signals which include sinusoidal waves that are out of phase with one another by the predetermined offset angle and include amplitudes of the waves to control the speed in which the directional movements are made.
In a third control system, a hand held controller is operable by a user. The controller includes four transmitters in a circular quadrant placement. Each transmitter sends a signal that is identifiable from the other signals. The hand held controller also includes a signal blocking element positioned between two adjacent transmitters to reduce intermingling of signals. The rotating vehicle has a receiver, and a microprocessor in communication with the receiver. The microprocessor has the ability to generate drive signals in relation to the received signals and to send the drive signals to the rotor assemblies. The drive signals control the rotating vehicle to fly in a specified direction.
The hand held controller may further include a throttle input manually operable by the user. The controller also includes means to augment each signal emitted from the hand held controller in response to the throttle input. The microprocessor positioned in the rotating vehicle has programming to control levels of the drive signals in relation to the augmentation of the signals.
In a fourth control system, which is similar to the third control system, the hand held controller includes a radio transmitter. The throttle input positioned in the hand held controller is used to generate a signal in response thereto. The signal is sent from the radio transmitter to the rotating vehicle that includes a radio receiver. The radio receiver is in communication with the microprocessor, which has programming to control levels of the drive signals in relation received radio signal.
In a fifth control system the rotating vehicle includes a transmitter for sending a reference signal, and includes a receiver for receiving drive signals. The drive signals are used to control the rotor assemblies to move the rotating vehicle in a specified direction. A hand held controller operable by a user is also provided. The hand held controller includes two adjacent receivers, a signal blocking element positioned between the two adjacent receivers to reduce intermingling of the reception of the reference signal. A microprocessor is in communication with the receivers and has a means to generate the drive signals in relation to the received reference signal. A transmitter in communication with the microprocessor is used to send the drive signals to the rotating vehicle. When the hand held controller is moved in a direction and the reception of the reference signal by the two adjacent receivers changes, the microprocessor generates drive signals to move the rotating vehicle in a specified direction that corresponds to the movement of the hand held controller.
Numerous other advantages and features of the invention will become readily apparent from the following detailed description of the invention and the embodiments thereof, from the claims, and from the accompanying drawings.
A fuller understanding of the foregoing may be had by reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:
While the invention is susceptible to embodiments in many different forms, there are shown in the drawings and will be described herein, in detail, the preferred embodiments of the present invention. It should be understood, however, that the present disclosure is to be considered an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the spirit or scope of the invention and/or claims of the embodiments illustrated.
Referring also to
Referring now to
Continuing to refer to
As the propellers 50 rotate, no attempt is made to counter the torque created from the rotating propeller 50. Instead the torque causes the rotating vehicle 10 to rotate in the opposite direction. With sufficient RPMs the rotating vehicle 10 will lift off of the ground or a surface and begin flying. Once the rotating vehicle 10 is flying, the outer ring 14 protects the blades 16 and propellers 50. As mentioned above, the outer ring 14 and hub 12 are connected by the plurality of blades 16. The blades 16 have lifting surfaces positioned to generate lift as the vehicle 10 rotates. Even though the blades 16 are rotating in the opposite direction as the propellers 50, both are providing lift to the rotating vehicle 10. The blades 16 are categorized as counter-rotating lifting surfaces. The induced drag characteristics of the propellers 50 verses the blades 16 can also be adjusted to provide the desired body rotation speed. In addition, the propellers 50 may be inclined at an angle to add torque to the rotating vehicle 10 to achieve a more desirable rotational speed, which may help the self stabilization effect of the rotating vehicle 10. The propellers 50 may be inclined at about 0-10 degrees, more preferably at about 4-5 degrees.
The rotating vehicle 10 has the ability to self stabilize during rotation. This self stabilization is categorized by the following: as the rotating vehicle 10 is moved in someway it tilts to one direction and starts moving in that direction. A blade, of the plurality of blades 16, that is on the preceding side of the rotating vehicle 10 will get more lift than the blade on the receding side. This happens because the preceding blade will exhibit a higher inflow of air than the receding blade. Depending on the direction of rotation, the lift is going to be on one side or the other. This action provides a lifting force that is 90 degrees to the direction of travel. Due to gyroscopic procession a reaction force manifests 90 degrees out of phase with the lifting force. This reaction force opposes movement of the vehicle and thus the rotating vehicle 10 tends to self stabilize. The self-stabilizing effect is thus caused by the gyroscopic procession and the extra lifting force on the preceding blade.
The placement of the center of gravity (CG,
The rotating vehicle 10 may also be particularly stable because there is a large amount of aerodynamic dampening caused by the large cross-sectional area of the blades 16. Stability is also believed to be enhanced by having a higher rotational moment of inertia due to the weight of the multiple motor mechanisms mounted away from the central axis of the hub.
During operation, the propellers 50 are spinning thus drawing air from above the rotating vehicle downwardly through the counter rotating blades 16 within the outer ring 14. The air is thus being conditioned by the blades before hitting the propellers 50. By conditioning the air it is meant that the air coming off the blades 16 is at an angle and at an acceleration, as opposed to placing the propellers 50 in stationary air and having to accelerate the air from zero or near zero. The efficiency of the propellers 50 will be increased as long as the propellers 50 are specifically pitched to take the accelerated air into account.
In order to directionally control the rotating vehicle 10, meaning to control the flying rotating vehicle in up/down, forward/backward, and left/right directions, a control system is employed. The control system needs to provide a position reference to coordinate directional commands relative to the operator. The position reference can be achieved by using a directionally transmittable or receivable medium such as radio, ultrasound, or light. In addition an external reference that both the rotating vehicle and a hand held controller have access to, such as earths magnetic field, sun or man made signals from a beacon or GPS signals, could be used to provide a relative directional reference.
The control system also needs to translate control commands to the appropriate rotor assembly. This may be performed either in the hand held controller or in the rotating vehicle. In either case a means of conveying the needed information between the hand held controller and the rotating vehicle is necessary. This can be done by a separate transmission medium or encoded within the reference medium or some combination of both. Some of the following control system embodiments use infrared light as a directional medium. This is only because IR emitters and receivers are readily available and inexpensive. And their extensive use for remote controllers in the consumer electronic industry made the selection easier.
Referring now to
It has been determined that by changing the power output to each rotor assembly as they move through the quadrants, the rotating vehicle 10 can be directionally controlled. The moment a position reference is determined, both the rotational position of the rotating vehicle 10 and orientation of the rotor assemblies 20 are known. Moreover, by synchronizing and adjusting the power distributed to the rotor assemblies 20 the rotating vehicle will fly or move in any desired direction from the perspective of the user operating the hand held controller. Thus allowing a user operating the rotating vehicle 10 to align themselves with the vehicle 10 and direct it to the left/right, forwards (or towards the user)/backwards (or away from the user), and up/down, without having the user to move about the rotating vehicle to direct it only in a forwards or backwards position. Since the rotating vehicle 10 is constantly spinning at approximately 300 rpm, the position reference element (either a receiver or transmitter depending upon the control system) can calculate the orientation of the rotating vehicle every ⅕ of a second, permitting a substantially constant determination of such orientation.
In addition, the ability to provide a smoother control of the power distributed to the rotor assemblies 20 can be provided herein. While in vehicle electro mechanical commutators may be used to control the power provided to a motor, a control system is provided that generates a sine wave for each rotor assembly that is out of phase with each other by the aforementioned offset angle (120°). Moreover, the sine waves are constructed using a number of samples to create a single cycle of each sine wave, wherein the mechanical commutators use segments in a commutator ring to control the power; where each segment would correspond to a sample. The sine waves are further constructed from approximately 32 samples, of which it would be extremely difficult to manufacture a commutator with 32 segments. As such the control system allows for a smoother cyclic control of the rotating vehicle.
During operation, a user controlling the rotating vehicle 10 may control a throttle and a directional control. Initially when the vehicle 10 is resting on the ground, the user will control the throttle such that the microprocessor 28 begins to provide and increase the level of a drive signal to each motor 32. The throttle signals to the microprocessor 28 to control the level of the drive signals to each rotor assembly 20 equally such that the rotating vehicle 10 raises and lowers at a level angle and not tilted to one side. If the throttle is increased the microprocessor 28 will increase the level of the drive signal causing the propellers 50 to rotate at a faster rate raising the rotating vehicle 10. Alternately, when the throttle is decreased the level of the drive signals is decreased causing the rotation of the propellers to decrease thereby lowering the rotating vehicle 10.
In another embodiment, the user can control the throttle by moving a throttle controller slightly forward causing the level of the drive signal to increase, and when the throttle is moved forwards “all the way” the level of the drive signal is increased greater than previously causing the rotating vehicle to climb faster. Thus, when the throttle is moved the level of the drive signal is increased or decreased at a proportional rate. This aspect is the same for moving the rotating vehicle in any direction.
When the user desires to move the rotating vehicle 10 in a specific direction, the user may move the directional control. The microprocessor receiving a signal from the directional control will generate sine waves for each rotor assembly M1, M2, and M3. The sine waves will be added to the drive signals causing the motors to increase and decrease the power in accordance to the positive and negative peaks of the sine waves. It is important to note that the sine waves are also out of phase with one another as determined by the offset angle. By shifting the beginning phase angle of each sine wave, the motors can be controlled to move the vehicle in a specified direction. As such, in each instance, the microprocessor shifts the three individual sine waves to the correct beginning phase angle. In addition, the sine waves may have amplitudes to control the speed in which directional movement are made (similar to throttle changes). If the directional controller is moved in one direction slightly, the amplitude of the sine waves may be smaller then when the directional controller is moved all the way in one direction. By adjusting the amplitude and the beginning phase angle of the sine waves, the user can adjust the rate in which the rotating vehicle 10 moves in a particular direction. Lastly, the microprocessor will add (if necessary) the correct level to the drive signals of each motor. Thus the drive signals not only control the direction of the vehicle but also the speed in which the directional movements are made.
In reference to the directional control inputs to the rotating vehicle 10,
In a first control system embodiment 100,
The microprocessor has programming that creates drive signals in direct response to the encoded signals. The drive signals are sent to the appropriate rotor assemblies M1, M2, and M3 through motor controllers 118 (separately referenced as C1, C2, and C3, respectively). The motor controllers may be part of the rotor assemblies. As described above, the drive signals control the speed of the propellers as the propellers rotate around the quadrants (illustrated in
Both the throttle controller and directional controller are manually operable by the user. In addition, both when manipulated by the user causes the IR transmitter to send encoded commands specifically relating to the manipulation thereof. This is typically done through a separate microprocessor and programming positioned in the hand held controller. IR encoding is well known and is typically achieved through a beam encoder.
In an alternative control system 125,
In a second control system 130,
In a third control system 180,
In an alternative control system to the system described with reference to
In a fourth control system 210,
Similar to the control systems in
In a fifth control system 240,
Continuing to refer to
It is further contemplated that the control systems described above can be employed to control the flight path of a flying aircraft having at least one propeller mechanism. The propeller mechanism would include a propeller, a motor, and a means to control the propeller. The control means may be a means to change the pitch of the propeller while rotating or similar to the above a means to control the drive signals being sent to the motor. The control system would work in connection with a hand held controller operable by a user. In the hand held controller, similar to above, four transmitters would be positioned in a domed front portion therein, in a circular quadrant placement. Each transmitter would send a signal that is identifiable from the other signals. The aircraft further has a receiver, and a microprocessor in communication with the receiver. The microprocessor has means to communicate with the control means to move the aircraft in a specified direction in response to received signals. For example, when the receiver is receiving two of the four signals, caused by the hand held controller being moved in a direction, the microprocessor controls the propeller mechanism to fly the aircraft in a specified direction that corresponds to the movement of the hand held controller.
The control system may also be employed to move ground vehicles that track and follow the movement of the hand held controller.
It should be further stated the specific information shown in the drawings but not specifically mentioned above may be ascertained and read into the specification by virtue of a simple study of the drawings. Moreover, the invention is also not necessarily limited by the drawings or the specification as structural and functional equivalents may be contemplated and incorporated into the invention without departing from the spirit and scope of the novel concept of the invention. It is to be understood that no limitation with respect to the specific methods and apparatus illustrated herein is intended or should be inferred. It is, of course, intended to cover by the appended claims all such modifications as fall within the scope of the claims.
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|US8561937 *||Oct 17, 2010||Oct 22, 2013||Hosein Goodarzi||Unmanned aerial vehicle|
|US9004973 *||Mar 15, 2013||Apr 14, 2015||Qfo Labs, Inc.||Remote-control flying copter and method|
|US9011250||Mar 15, 2013||Apr 21, 2015||Qfo Labs, Inc.||Wireless communication system for game play with multiple remote-control flying craft|
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|US20120091284 *||Apr 19, 2012||Hosein Goodarzi||Unmanned aerial vehicle|
|US20140099853 *||Mar 15, 2013||Apr 10, 2014||Qfo Labs, Inc.||Remote-control flying copter and method|
|US20150273351 *||Apr 14, 2015||Oct 1, 2015||Qfo Labs, Inc.||Remote-control flying copter|
|USD763133||Mar 17, 2014||Aug 9, 2016||Xray Airframe Design & Development, LLC||Drone system component including rings|
|U.S. Classification||446/454, 446/46, 446/48|
|Cooperative Classification||A63H30/04, A63H27/12|
|Mar 8, 2014||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Apr 16, 2014||SULP||Surcharge for late payment|